The biggest stars of the women's game will be making their way to Australia and New Zealand for the first time ever this July, and it’s set to be the best edition of the tournament yet.
After the raging success of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar, 2023 is the turn of the women’s teams to showcase their talents in football’s highest level tournament.
The biggest stars of the game will be making their way to Australia and New Zealand for the first time ever this July, and it’s set to be the best edition of the tournament yet.
The women’s World Cup dates back to 1970, but has only been under FIFA’s umbrella since 1991. The decade that followed was when popularity began to really grow. The USA hosting for the first time in 1999 was a significant moment for the trajectory of the sport, with the final having an attendance of over 90,000 people. Germany won the first two tournaments of the new millennium, but it has been back to US dominance ever since. They’ve reached the last three consecutive finals, winning the previous two.
By the 2019 edition in France, popularity of the women’s game had reached unprecedented levels. But what can we expect from 2023 in Oceania?
“First of all, it will be winter here, actually. So that is going to be a shock for a lot of people, I think,” said Narelle Sindos, Sports reporter at Discovery Inc.
“I was at the last Women's World Cup in France and that was so nice and so hot. And I think people will get a bit of a shock, especially being in New Zealand. It's a lot colder than Australia, especially down south. So bring jackets, bring gloves. But New Zealand is known for being, really, really nice. That's something we get told all the time. The coffee is really good and the food, so it's a pretty good place to host a World Cup in my opinion.”
10 stadiums from 9 cities across the 2 countries will welcome the world’s best players when the competition kicks off on July 20th. Auckland’s Eden Park will host the opening match between New Zealand and Norway, while Australia begin their campaign at the Sydney Football Stadium when they take on Ireland.
2011 winners Japan will play their first game at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, whilst Euro 2022 winners England will start at the Brisbane Stadium. Ballon D’or winner Alexia Putellas will be back for Spain, as they kick-off at the Wellington Regional Stadium. Meanwhile, Six matches will take place at the Forsyth BarrJus Stadium. The Hindmarsh and Perth Rectangular stadiums will host five matches in total.
The holders are the USA, and it’s hard to see a world where any team who have aspirations of winning this tournament will not have to beat the Americans. They have a rivalry with England that we could see renewed at the business end of the competition this year, which saw them clash in the 2019 edition of the tournament in France too. The US progressed past England on that occasion, but most recently England were the victors when the pair clashed at Wembley in October.
“The history books show that England has never beaten the United States in a senior level World Cup, men's or women's,” explained Jonathan Tannewald, Chief Soccer reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“They’ve played five times now over 72 years. Is this summer when the streak ends? We're going to have to find out. But we do enjoy having that long undefeated streak over the English.”
England and the USA are the two clear front-runners, but other European nations will be in with a chance as well. Spain have their star striker, Alexia Putellas, back available after a knee injury kept her out of the European Championships last summer. Germany will also be dangerous, having taken England to extra-time in the Euros final at Wembley.
“I think that England and Germany are the two best teams in Europe right now overall,” Tannewald continued, “I think that France should be among them, they have extraordinary talent. The same goes for Spain.”
“So it's England and Germany at the top right now, along with France and Spain. After them, I might put Norway very close to, if not in that group with France and Spain, because Ada Hegerberg is back with the team.”
So, another exciting World Cup on the way this summer with lots of teams looking to take the world crown. We should also look forward to what should be great hosts in Australia and New Zealand. Will England and the USA battle it out again to win the tournament? Or can another unexpected contender take the trophy?